This article discusses how to get help from IT and how to be most effective in helping us help you. Contingency planning and proper technique can help avoid problems; self-help, backups, and good record keeping can help speed problem resolution.
We understand how critical computers are to your everyday work life and we work hard to make the entire computing environment as reliable as possible. Computers are in fact very reliable and the systems we use very stable. But they are not 100% reliable. The systems we use are not monolithic things. They are combinations of electronic devices, wiring connections, and layers of software. For example, it would not be uncommon for an email message sent from a workstation on campus to traverse 15 hardware and software components to be delivered, and another 15 for the the message to be retrieved. A request from a web site off campus could involve as many as 50 interactions with hardware, software and networking components. Even if every one of those components was 99.99% reliable, the aggregate of 50 interactions would still be out of commission for 10 hours in a working year of 2,000 hours. However, one should not assume that technologies will never work at all. We recommend a cautiously optimistic attitude toward the overall availability of computing and communications.
When problems occur that you cannot resolve, call IT (x1234) immediately. But realize that IT logs over 200 calls each month and that problems take time to solve. A reasonable expectation for resolution is 1/2 day to a full day from the time you call. Many times the resolution is faster, sometimes it can be much slower. Triage decisions may make your particular issue a lower priority than others. You should expect that we will work on the most pressing issue that affects the greatest number of people first. As an example, if no one can print and a person wants the time set correctly on their computer, the printing issue will be addressed before the time issue.
Finally, be realistic about who is responsible for getting work done. Remember that computers and other technological tools are just that - tools. Work must continue even if your pen breaks, your light bulb burns out, or your computer goes crazy. But know that IT is here to help and we will do so to the best of our ability.
Murphy's Law dictates that when technologies fail that they fail at the most inconvenient time. Papers are due, proposals are due, budgets are due, and the technologies that have been working fine fail at exactly the time you need them the most. So what do you do? You execute your backup plan. The trick is to have one before you need it. Here are a few suggestions of things to arrange in advance of problems:
You can prevent problems, work around them more smoothly, and recover from them more effectively if you work safe and smart. Here are a few suggestions: